JAMINDAN, Capiz—President Rodrigo Roa Duterte oversaw the decommissioning Thursday of firearms surrendered by former rebels who broke away from the country’s main leftist revolutionary organization and signed a peace agreement with the government nearly two decades ago.
Speaking before the former combatants of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade – Tabara-Paduano Group (RPA/ABB-TPG) or Kapatiran, President Duterte said the occasion marks another step closer towards the building of a peaceful and prosperous nation.
He acknowledged the unwavering dedication and hard work of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and all other partners to end years of hostilities between the government and RPA/ABB-TPG.
“I am pleased to note that this peace-building program has also a social and economic reintegration component through which the government will provide support to enable returnees to become productive members of the society,” President Duterte said.
“I encourage all 727 returnees to take advantage of this opportunity to start anew and lead a productive life with your families and loved ones. Be assured of the government’s full support for your reintegration to the mainstream society.”
At the same time, the President urged all stakeholders to continue working together to ensure that the fruits of the years of peace negotiations will not go to waste.
And as the government sustain the gains of the peace-building efforts, he said, “I enjoin all Filipinos to make the Philippines a better place for everyone, where we can all live in harmony and with greater opportunities for an improved quality of life.”
More than 300 firearms from members of the RPA/ABB-TPG were decommissioned and handed over to Camp Gen. Macario B. Peralta Jr., the headquarters of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID).
Aside from the firearms decommissioned on Thursday, less than 12,000 rounds of assorted ammunition and 145 pieces of military ordnance were also disposed.
Mostly from the provinces of Negros, Aklan, Bukidnon, Antique, Capiz, and Iloilo, the 727 Kapatiran members underwent profiling by the OPAPP and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) prior to Thursday’s disposition of firearms.
Also, 267 Kapatiran members were presented to the President. They will undergo training on nationalism, camp defense, disaster response, and rescue operations.
They will also receive socioeconomic assistance packages from the DSWD as part of the government’s commitment under the Clarificatory Implementation Document (CID) signed by the Philippine government and Kapatiran in July this year.
The National Housing Authority (NHA) is in charge of their housing needs.
CID has five components: disposition of arms and forces and security arrangements, socioeconomic reintegration, release of remaining political offenders, transformation of former rebels into a civilian organization engaged in socioeconomic and political activities, and community peace dividends.
A joint enforcement and monitoring committee was created to monitor the implementation of the CID. The monitoring committee is co-chaired by Veronica Tabara and Defense Undersecretary Cesar Yano.
A closure agreement is expected to be signed in 2022, upon the fulfillment of the requirements stated in the CID.
A Securities and Exchange Commission-registered entity, Kapatiran was established in 2013 as the rejectionist group of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) went mainstream. It is currently headed by Veronica Tabara and being represented in Congress by Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano of Abang Lingkod Partylist.
Earlier this month, President Duterte also witnessed the decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants in Maguindanao, promising to honor all the peace agreements entered into by the government. PND